Archive for the ‘Mind’ Category
September 5th, 2012by Michelle Muttart
The fall and winter months often prove to be more difficult to handle for some and for others they sail through what they’ll often refer to as their ‘favorite time of year’. I fall into the first category often beginning to struggle sometime during the transition into fall.
For many years I wrestled with seasonal depression. Of course, in my younger, more naïve years I’d visit my family physician and start taking an anti-depressant. That never ended well. Once yoga philosophy came into my life and I learned about Ayurveda I realized that what was actually happening was an imbalance in the elements that composed my body.
When the transition out of Summer (Pitta) and into Fall (Vata) began I would usually have more fire energy in my body but it didn’t take long to swoop right into having too much air, the result was feeling cold, restless, anxious, indecisive, my body hurt, my stomach would swing from constipation or dysentery, I would feel irritated and loose my temper, I’d overeat or not eat enough, and soon I would be sleeping too much causing fatigue and ultimately depression.
Through an analysis I learned that my body is made of a lot of air with ether (Vata), equal fire with water (Pitta), and a smaller amount of water with Earth (Kapha pronounced Ka-Pa). More importantly, there were actions I could take to help improve how I felt.
What I now change or implement at the beginning of fall:
- Eat warm foods like soup, stews, and casseroles
- Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables especially rooted ones to help keep me grounded
- Not eating frozen, processed foods, or cooling foods like melons, cucumbers, or grapes
- Not using ice in my drinks and drinking more hot teas and warm water with lemon
- Doing yoga everyday and meditating more often
- Travelling to warmer climates whenever I can
- Eliminating things that cause me to move at a hectic pace, doing less and nurturing myself more
- Coconut oil massage and moisturizing with it daily, even eating it
- Adding more omega 3 to my diet
- Adding spices to my foods that help warm me from the inside out (in moderation)
- Soaking in the sunlight whenever I can
- Wearing warm clothing to ensure that I’m comfortable, opting for layers
Many things stimulate the Doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. The saying is true; “Like attracts like,” and I am no different. We all are naturally attracted to what speaks to us most, good or bad. To further understand the Doshas, I’ll tell you a little more about how they work in my life.
My Vata expresses by:
- Exploring mystical ideas
- Creative pursuits
- Having many pursuits
- Being somewhat thin and of low weight
- Having small teeth and eyes
- Loving change and travel
- Dry skin
- Exploring spirituality
- Loving warm weather and sunlight
- Sensitivities to noise
- Getting restless at times
- Joints that pop often
- Under stress my body hurts
- Loving to counsel or teach
My Pitta expresses equally by:
- Often striving for perfection
- Sometimes having digestive issues
- Having lots of moles
- Having owned my own business
- A slight athletic build
- Having equal proportions
- Color coordinating my closet
- Working well under pressure
- Sensitivities to heat
- Loving be next to the lake or ocean
- A love of learning
- Getting irritated at times
My Kapha expresses too by:
- Having blue eyes and blonde hair
- Having softness physically (no six-pack here, Kapha is a voluptuous creature!)
- Get melancholy at times
- Allergies in the spring
- Wanting to help others
- Not liking to be rushed by others
- Feeling a connection to nature
- Sensitivities to smells
- Cold, damp weather bothers me
You might see similar characteristics in each list and that in natural. We are all made of all three Doshas; it’s the amount of each one that varies for the individual. Once you realize what you are made of, you can learn to lean more to what really balances you and not just what feels best, because sometimes what seems right isn’t always. Sometimes we have to look at the whole picture.
I realized that some of the things causing chaos for me were things that ‘society’ said were normal. I pushed through for many years, but in yoga we are taught not to push but to look for the path of least resistance. I found that I couldn’t participate in the normal and remain balanced. I had to make some major lifestyle adjustments in order to honor my family and myself more.
One of the things I chose to do was to take my children out of public school and bring them home. I realized several years ago that the change into the school year made the pace of which our family flowed turn into a type of stress vortex! Between the schedule, work, homework, and sports we were all tapped out by the end of the day and there was no time for any of us to nourish ourselves. Sometimes it would be weeks before we had a chance to balance.
Not finding time for balance results in dis-ease; so some major changes had to be made. The result has been rewarding. It wasn’t easy, however, we are beginning to see the fruits of our labor now. Each change we make brings us closer to where we need to be, a place of perfect health and peace. A place where our spirit can remain connected with those closest to us, to others who need us, to ourselves, and most importantly, to our source.
Honor yourself this fall and make the changes big or small!
If you or a loved one are interested in having your own analysis, I will be scheduling appointments now through Oct. 1 for a discounted price of $55. Please see the services page for a detailed description.
February 5th, 2012by Michelle Muttart
In talking with many people who are on a path of growth I get the opportunity to witness; witness their walk and turn inward to witness my own. When we step back, sometimes we can see the error of our ways and with guidance learn a more positive approach. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras teaches about the concept of avidya. Let’s look at what avidya is and how it plays a part in our lives.
What is Avidya?
Avidya literally means “incorrect understanding”. The opposite is vidya or “correct understanding”. Avidya in some ways is the characteristics and habits that we develop because of our life experiences. For example, say a friend falls to the ground and we extend a hand to help them up and they smack it. We would be confused, maybe even hurt or angry. But they are our friend and so we reach out again, but again they smack our hand. In fact each time we try to help them we get the same result. Eventually, we no longer offer assistance to them with a fear of what may happen.
Let’s move forward a month and another friend slips and falls. Will we help them? By this point, it will at the very least cross our mind that we could be slapped again. Of course we want to help, but our past experiences tell us we may not get the result we hope for and in fact we may be hurt in the process. We may even replay the event in our mind so much that we become traumatized and decide never to help anyone who falls. This is avidya.
Avidya is like a tree and it’s sometimes easier to recognize the branches. The first branch is asmita or the “ego”. Asmita makes us think we need to be the best, the fastest, the coolest, the richest, the prettiest, the skinniest, and so on.
The second branch is raja. Raja is demanding. For example, Sue went shopping for furniture and found a table she’s been looking for and was so happy and excited to have something new for her house. Today, Sue wakes up and wants to go again, get something else. Even though she may not need anything and it may not be good for her budget, she wants to feel good like she did yesterday. This is raja.
Next is Dvesa. In a way, it’s opposite of raja. Dvesa is when we reject things. When we no longer help a fallen friend because we are afraid we will get hurt again, like our example. We may even reject things that are unfamiliar even if we have no reason. We reject people, thoughts, places, and things because of what we relate to them or because we can’t relate to them.
Last is abhinivesa or fear. Fear affects us more than we realize. In our society it’s best to blend, to be part of the norm, to do what is expected. When we express ourselves in a way that is individual or different we have doubts. These doubts can be about our jobs, relationships, about being judged, about our looks and the aging process, and so on. Think about the amount of doubt that goes through your mind on a daily basis. Thoughts This is abhinivesa.
Just like a tree, avidya grows. It may be slow and subtle then before we realize it the roots have overtaken and we are immersed in negative thoughts and fears, not thinking clearly because avidya is like a cloud over our eyes. At that point, we are living in an illusion and cannot see the truth. This can be in a single are of life or many.
The good news is yoga helps us to see. It helps to remove the cloud by practicing the philosophy. The practice teaches that what happened yesterday is not guaranteed for today. If yesterday was great and I want it all over again or if it was bad and I never want it again. Today is a new day and with this day we are renewed and all of our experiences are new.
Take time this week to see what you cling to and what you reject. See what branches of avidya are creeping into the garden of your mind, body, and your spirit. Acknowledge it, then begin the process of letting go by allowing yourself to feel how you feel, accepting it. Next, move your awareness into the body and see where the roots are on a more physical level, imagine them unrooting and releasing in whatever way that unfolds.
Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih
January 29th, 2012by Michelle Muttart
In Patanjali’s Sutra 33 on contemplation, he explains, “By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.”
Have you ever been around someone who is happy-go-lucky all the time? Do you know someone who seems to ‘have it all’? Sometimes we may be a little annoyed, irritated, and jealous of these types; maybe they just get on our last nerve. The unfortunate thing with reacting unenthusiastically to their good fortune or happiness is that it really only effects us, bringing negative within our own mind and body. They just go on being happy. Let us be friendly with that person and realize that if they are happy and have good fortune it means that we too may have those things in our own lives.
In the same way a happy person can annoy us, an unhappy person can as well. We sometimes look down upon those less fortunate and unhappy; this too only creates negative energy within ourselves. Let us have compassion, help them when we can. In doing this we retain peace in our minds and in our hearts. Helping others is helping ourselves.
We sometimes don’t understand one who is virtuous, especially when we struggle. But don’t tear someone down because they are great or doing great things. Instead look up to those people, imitate them, and begin to cultivate their words and actions into your own lifestyle choices.
What is the difference between unhappy and wicked? I had the chance to discuss this with a wonderful Yoga instructor in the area, Sofia Nelson. One idea that we agreed upon is the unhappy mostly harm themselves and generally want to be well, the wicked may harm others and with little or no regard for the wake of destruction left in their path. It’s the latter that should be avoided. Sometimes when we try to help others they may consider us arrogant or righteous and refuse our help or worse lash out at us for trying.
The Key to Your Heart
One person is generally not all of one thing and neither are we; there is a little happy, unhappy, virtuous, and wicked in each of us. In the same way that we deal with others we can deal with these parts of ourselves as they emerge. Be kind to yourself when you are happy, have compassion for yourself when you are sad, delight in how far you have come in this life, and do not feed or spiral into the negative aspects of yourself.
Finding the Right Key
According to Patanjali when we use the right key with the right person we can retain our happiness. In my life I have often tried to save someone as many of us have. In most cases, my intentions were good, but I used the wrong key and I suffered because of it. Guard your heart until you are strong enough to handle taking on the darkness and turning it into light. This practice is revered for seasoned spiritual practitioners and when taken on by someone who is not ready, can cause grief, pain, and uncertainty.